deus::ex::machina – Human Geography in a Virtual World

Dance / Drostdy Lawns

deus::ex::machina is a physical expression of human geography, a search for connection within chaos. Part telematic performance, part interactive online experience, deus::ex::machina is live, real time motion controlled by the audience.

This multiplayer game invites viewers to meet online or in real life, in a shared experience of simulated connection. This virtual experience is driven by you, the viewer, as you control the dancers via a real time voting process through your device, ultimately deciding each unique outcome of the performance, as it unfolds live and via live stream.

deus::ex::machina was developed during, and in response to, the global lockdown in 2020.

In this extended reality, we measure the uniqueness of the individual, against the commonality of the human experience. The performance expresses how the movements and trajectories of people moving in public space unknowingly create a large scale choreography. While we experience global physical isolation, our connections entirely dependent on technology, our realities filtered through algorithms – how close are we to being controlled; or are we the ones in control?

deus::ex::machina becomes a physical embodiment of man vs machine. No two performances are the same, and each audience experience unique.


Project Credits:
Concept, Choreography, Creative Direction: Louise Coetzer
Interactive Digital Design, Set Design, Coding: Marc Nicolson, Padraig Riley, Sibongiseni Tembe (Thingking)
Performed by: Darkroom Contemporary
Dancers: Mukovhe Monyai, Christopher Sherwood-Adcock, Farnel Smart, Tania Mteto, Bronwyn Craddock
Music by: Cara Stacey, Lungiswa Plaatjies, Matthijs van Dijk, Object Agency, Franco Prinsloo, and NASA ‘Sounds From Mars’, edited by Brydon Bolton
Project Manager, Technical Support, Project Photographer: Oscar O’Ryan
Stage Manager: Buntu Tyali
Rehearsal Director: Natalie Fisher

This performance tour is made possible by the National Arts Festival, National Arts Council, and Mzansi Golden Economy.

Project development made possible by the National Lotteries Commission. Realised through the Pan African Telematic Art Project (PATAP), an initiative of the Vrystaat Arts Festival Pan African Creative Exchange, supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands & the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and with support from NATi.


Media info: deus::ex::machina





LOUISE COETZER (b 1980, South Africa) is a multidisciplinary dance artist working with site-specific performance, digital and tech-based art, choreography for the stage, and dance film. Her works are experiential, experimental, and often have interdisciplinary approaches at their core.

Her research on the use of new technologies and media applications as presentation tools, is ongoing. A focus on developing new audiences for dance, by connecting the form to the world outside the theatre, informs this exploration of placing dance in surprising juxtaposition with everyday life, both real and virtual.

Coetzer trained as dancer and obtained a B. Tech Degree in Dance, with Movement Composition as major from the Pretoria Technikon, and is currently living and working in Cape Town. She is founding Artistic Director of Darkroom Contemporary Dance Theatre, and is a guest lecturer at the University Of Cape Town’s Centre for Theatre Dance and Performance Studies.

DARKROOM CONTEMPORARY Dance Theatre is a project-based company formed as vehicle to reimagine dance, through its innovative approach to staging and presenting contemporary works. Darkroom Contemporary challenges perceptions on how dance is viewed, by creating unique audience experiences and new ways of representing and appreciating dance.

The company regularly stages works in unexpected performance areas, transforming ordinary spaces into intriguing, multi-faceted arenas. An extensive and award-winning body of dance film works exists alongside the company’s performance repertoire, making their work accessible to a larger global audience through the medium of film and digital media. Darkroom Contemporary continuously explores new avenues to make dance accessible to all, through its artistic output, educational and developmental initiatives.

The organisation was founded in 2010 by Louise Coetzer and Oscar O’Ryan. Coetzer, a dancer and choreographer, and O’Ryan, a photographer and filmmaker, bring together expertise from their respective fields to form a dynamic partnership. Projects spearheaded by the founders provide platforms and create opportunities for skills development and exchange among all artists involved. A focus on the use of new technology and digital media frames their artistic approach. Similarly does interdisciplinary exploration, with project collaborators including visual artists, musicians, designers, filmmakers and digital artists.

ThingKing is a designer – maker consultancy based in Cape Town. They focus on project-based industrial design, often incorporating technology. They aim for all their work to be playful, fun and interactive. They have worked with leading brands both locally and abroad to create real life wonder.

  • Venue: Drostdy Lawns
  • City: Makhanda
  • Location: Between the Drostdy Arch and the Rhodes University Main Administration buildings
  • Ticket Price: R0.00
  • Genre: Dance
  • Duration: 22mins
  • Ages: All Ages
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June 25, 2022   11:00 - 11:25

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Drostdy Lawns
June 25, 2022   15:30 - 15:55

Tickets releasing soon.